Oh hello. Are you still here? I figured after seeing this picture, you’d already be rushing off to your kitchen to make these delicious Caramel Apple Bars. 😂
Seriously though, all kidding aside, they really are worth your time to make. With the buttery shortbread crust, the juicy apple filling, and the cinnamon-y streusel topping….. oh my word. Drizzle some rich caramel over the top, and these Caramel Apple Bars hit all the right notes for fall.
What You’ll Need
It’s mostly all pantry staples here, friends, so you likely have everything you need to whip these up.
It’s apple season, so you’ll have your choice of a wide variety of apple options. I used Gala apples, because they were on sale at the store, but really, any kind of apple works here. You could even use two different kinds to add some complexity to the flavor! And if you’ve been to the apple orchard already, this is a great use for some of your haul. 🍎🍏🍎🍏
Easy as Pie… actually, easier...
Melt your butter, and then add some sugar, flour, salt, and vanilla extract to make the shortbread crust. So much easier than rolling out pie crust!
Just press the dough into the bottom of an 8×8 pan that’s been lined with parchment paper, and spread it evenly. An offset spatula will help you get it into the corners and smoothed out nicely.
Pop the crust into the oven to bake a bit while you make the filling.
Peel and thinly slice the apples, before tossing them gently in a mixture of flour, sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg.
Mix together some old-fashioned oats (not the quick oats– you want the texture of the old-fashioned kind here), with brown sugar, flour, and more cinnamon. Then use a pastry cutter, a couple of forks, or even your hands, to work in some cold, cubed butter until you have a crumbly mix.
After the crust is partially baked, layer your apples tightly on top. Squeeze them in to cover the whole crust and get all those apples tucked in on top.
Then, sprinkle the streusel mixture evenly over the top of the apples, before popping the whole thing back into the oven to finish baking.
Cool, then Chill
When it comes out, it will already look and smell amazing. But let it cool for about 20 minutes, before putting it into the fridge for a couple of hours. It needs that time to set up, and make sure the layers stay intact when you cut it.
I know, it will be hard to wait, but it will be worth it. I promise.
Cut & Drizzle
Because you lined the pan with parchment, you should be able to easily lift the whole thing out onto a cutting board. I cut my bars into 9 even pieces.
Look at those beautiful layers! Everything about these bars is delicious, but that shortbread crust is addictive. I’m warning you.
And finally, a little bit of caramel drizzle sends these bars right over the top. Like, waayyyy over.
You can make your own caramel, or just use some in a jar or tub from the store.
Seriously, you’re still here? I’m impressed.
Okay, since you’re still here, can we pause a moment and talk about this Victorian antique cake pedastal that I served my Caramel Apple Bars on?
Because yes, these bars are incredible, but displaying them on this 139 year-old Adams & Co. cake stand practically takes my breath away. Let me repeat that. This cake stand that I brought home from my mom’s house is 139 years old, and somehow still in pristine condition.
I love to think about all the homemade goodies it’s held over all those years, at parties, weddings, holidays…. And now here it is, on a blog in the year 2020. Am I the only one who loves to think about the stories behind antiques?
I really don’t know a lot about the history of this piece, because unlike so many other things that we found in my mom’s house, this one wasn’t clearly labeled. However, it was in a box with a glass pitcher that is also by Adams & Co. Through some other paperwork and pictures, I was able to figure out that the pitcher was my 2x great-grandmother Cain’s, so I suspect that this cake pedastal was also hers.
I really had to do my homework to find some information about this cake plate, as the pattern, called Clear Ribbon, is rather uncommon, and was only produced during the year of 1881.
These were often sold with a dried floral arrangement inserted in the hollow stem, and it’s quite rare to have one in which the flower arrangment is still inside!
The dried flowers are only held inside by this little cork circle on the bottom, so you can see why many did not survive.
I had to do some more research to figure out what a “salver” was. I hadn’t heard that term before, but discovered that it’s just a Victorian era term for a cake stand.
Whomever owned this cake “salver” clearly treasured it, and took very good care of it for it to be so well-preserved. I feel so fortunate to be able to use it in my own home now. 💕 I love being able to add to its story before passing it on again.
Caramel Apple Bars
- ½ cup unsalted butter melted
- ¼ cup granulated sugar
- 1 tsp pure vanilla extract Watkins is my favorite
- ¼ tsp salt
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 2 large apples peeled & thinly sliced
- 2 tbsp all-purpose flour
- 2 tbsp granulated sugar
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- ⅛ tsp nutmeg
- ½ cup old-fashioned oats
- ⅓ cup brown sugar
- ⅓ tsp cinnamon
- ¼ cup allo-purpose flour
- ¼ cup unsalted butter cold, cubed
- ready-made caramel sauce for drizzling
- Preheat the oven to 300°F. Line the bottom and sides of an 8-inch square baking pan with parchment paper, leaving some overhang on all sides for lifting bars out of pan later. Set aside.
- Make the crust: Mix the melted butter, granulated sugar, vanilla, and salt together in a medium bowl. Add the flour, stirring until everything is combined. Press the mixture evenly into the prepared baking pan. Bake for 15 minutes while you prepare the filling and streusel topping.
- Make the apple filling: Combine the sliced apples, flour, granulated sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg in a large bowl until apples are evenly coated. Set aside.
- Make the streusel: Mix the oats, brown sugar, cinnamon, and flour together in a medium bowl. Cut in the chilled butter with a pastry cutter, or a fork, (or even with your hands) until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Set aside.
- Remove crust from the oven, and turn the oven up to 350°F. Layer the apples on top of the warm crust, fitting them together tightly to get them all in. Sprinkle the streusel over the top of the apples, and bake for 30–35 minutes, or until the streusel is golden brown.
- Allow baked bars to cool for at least 20 minutes at room temperature, before placing in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours to chill. Lift the parchment out of the pan using the overhang on the sides and cut into bars( I cut them into 9 bars). Once cut, drizzle some caramel sauce on top of each.
- These bars will stay fresh in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 3 days. Wait to drizzle with caramel before serving each bar.
- This recipe can easily be doubled and baked in a 9×13 pan. Adjust baking time to 45-55 minutes.
Okay, enough storytelling. Now I really think you should go and make these Caramel Apple Bars. Serve them up on your prettiest platter or cake stand to make them even more special ❤️
This post contains affiliate links.